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As large scale trends such as mergers and acquisitions, supplier diversification, and joint ventures shift the communications industry, OSS is being forced to adapt.
May 22, 2014
Fast and agile OSS is critical in today’s market. It is emerging as a cornerstone of all business needs and a crucial competitive differentiator. As large scale trends shift the industry, OSS is being forced to adapt. Here is a look at several trends that are having substantial impacts and how OSS is adapting to their effects.
Trend 1: Mergers and Acquisitions
Currently, the most visible and evident trend in the telecom industry is the increasing activity of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) among operators. This practice arises from an operator’s need to stay in business and overcome rivals in a very competitive climate. The fierce competition derives from scarce availability of new customers and their constantly evolving expectations and demands. The fact that traditional services are no longer as profitable as they used to be and that operators are struggling to get new customers is forcing companies to be more aggressive with their competitive stance.
M&A can help a declining company remain in business by becoming an affiliate of a buyer. In return, the buyer gets a fully functional network of new customers and a unique advantage over competitors. At the same time, M&A between similar operator types can cause process synchronization issues as well as data and resource inventory inconsistencies. This means that merging companies that provide entirely different telecom services may face even more significant problems regarding customer-base optimization, service accounting, complex service provisioning, service pack assembly and more.
Companies must resolve these problems to utilize infrastructure they have acquired, though these costs can be very high. The best way to address these challenges is to implement the most relevant Operation Support System (OSS). Sophisticated OSS solutions can handle M&A issues by centralizing information, resources, processes, network, services, etc. This gives operators a scalable view on the network and enables seamless workflow between several entities, taking into account the specific details of every affiliate. Real-time network management and resource inventory features are becoming pivotal, especially as networks become more complex. If communications service providers (CSPs) can make use of these tools and access critical data, the coordination between affiliates may become easier and more rewarding benefits may come to light.
Trend 2: Supplier Diversification
Another ongoing trend of the industry is the growing diversity among vendors’ operations. Mobile operators, for example, are selling mobile devices as part of an agreement with mobile phone manufacturers. Meanwhile, Internet access providers are selling modems or routers. These emerging initiatives help both operators and manufacturers gain profit, as customers will often buy mobile phones and other equipment through the most opportunistic, no-contract deal.
These diversification efforts don’t only introduce new areas of profit for operators, but they also mean that new product bundles must be added or existing deals must be redefined. These additional loads can make partnerships somewhat detrimental to an operator’s business, as an outdated OSS may be incapable of seamlessly absorbing, integrating and processing new data. As a result, every process becomes more complicated, especially order management and service provisioning. Resolving this problem may require a CSP to take a catalog-driven approach. This rationalizes the components involved in order fulfillment and enables quick assembly. With real-time discovery, the catalogs are always ‘aware’ of available resources and services, which supports greater resilience and cost-efficiency.
Trend 3: Joint Ventures
Joint ventures are also becoming increasingly common in today’s market. These endeavors allow operators to establish a single, unique agreement which allows them to build a jointly owned OSS or network infrastructure, reducing total cost of ownership (TCO) as a result. Typically, these contracts happen when operators want to implement increasingly expensive equipment. By cooperating, operators can lower the cost of a new technology implementation.
Often, an OSS with high-end resource inventory, real-time discovery and other capabilities is required as the provisioning process becomes more intricate. In the past, these types of systems were difficult to operate because they were used by several companies, each with its own set of processes, products and services. Today, an OSS must be capable of simultaneously orchestrating all the processes on the same infrastructure without losing sight of each operator’s unique specifications
5 Year Outlook
The telecom market is extremely dynamic. In the course of next five years, the number of clients, services and products will grow; processes will intensify; and technologies will enable operations at an increasingly fast rate. The emergence of small cells, substitution of call centers with self-service portals, development of 5G and more sophisticated customer private information security will be among the primary drivers behind OSS evolution. Because the telecom market is also externally influenced, almost as much as internally - the cases of Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning, for example, had an immense impact on the question of data security and customer privacy – the OSS of today must be able to adapt quickly. It must also support real-time network monitoring; vertical and horizontal scalability; modular structure; customer and partner interactions; and flexible and business-oriented technology architecture with reusable building blocks. Most importantly, however, is that the OSS must be flexible enough to enable a CSP to adjust to a marketplace that is changing at an accelerating rate.
Photo by whiz-ka with Creative Commons license